About OHF


Our Concept is Simple: Strengthen human bonds.

  • OHF provides a suite of programs for the SOF community to aid operators and their families given decades of perpetual combat operations, increased suicides, and an alarming divorce rate. Even though SOF make-up roughly less than 5% of the DoD and are comprised of the US military’s most elite, SOF has the highest casualty, divorce, and illness rates amongst all services.
  • OHF’s programs are specifically designed and tailored to enable these war-torn men and women to break through the silence to openly discuss their battlefield and personal hardships and provide needed support. A safe, protected atmosphere with an OHF staff that’s comprised of former operators, SOF spouses, and personnel who have worked serving the SOF community over a decade creates trust allowing our participants to let their guard down and share. Realizing they are not alone, participants discover it is appropriate — and not a stigma — to seek a hand up, help, support, and guidance when needed for SOF professionals and their families. And once an operator or SOF family becomes a part of our OHF alumni family—we maintain bonds and are always here if ever needed.
  • Our staff serves 24/7 just like the SOF community we support.


Their lives are our mission.

Operation Healing Forces’ mission is to serve the needs of America’s wounded, ill, injured, and fallen Special Operations Forces service members, veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors through a suite of programs that promote long-term mental, physical, emotional, and fiscal well-being.


Creating bonds that cure.

Our vision is that all members of the Special Operations Forces community are able to enhance their resilience, empower their rehabilitation, embrace their reintegration, and lead fulfilling and productive lives.

We started as one man’s act of kindness…

Our Founders

Operation Healing Forces was born in November 2011 under the name Operation Cruise. Our generous Founder Gary Markel wanted to support Special Operations Forces and their spouses/significant others through week-long retreats on his 150-foot yacht, as a way of giving back to American heroes who have sacrificed so much. In March 2016, our programs were extended beyond cruises to include donations of homes and resorts to continue to host our couples retreats.

Brothers Gary and Tony Markel are the grandsons of the founder of Markel Corporation, a specialty insurance firm and one of the largest of its kind. Gary puts it clearly when he says, “Our (OHF’s) focus is on bonding and healing.” Gary, Tony, and our Board of Directors have pledged to pay all overhead and administrative costs for Operation Healing Forces. Because of their generosity, 100% of all donations go directly toward supporting Special Operators and their families.

Their thanks are heartfelt